Resources

Video content created by Ross Ashman; with some of his best advice, top sales tips and techniques!

Questioning

We’ve all heard the expression “telling is NOT selling” but what does that really mean?
The reality is that we are hard-wired to doubt the information we’re given – especially when it’s delivered by a salesperson!
Given this, the questioning phase is pivotal in any high-value, B2S sales environment.
By identifying in advance areas that we can help – and then asking the correct questions – you can get the prospect to convince themselves that they really do need assistance.
This is intrinsically more powerful than us trying to twist their arm and leaves us simply need to match our solutions with their exact requirements.

Expensive, Yes

Most people are familiar with the old adage “time kills deals”.
A long cycle that results in a “no” can be shattering for a reps confidence and figures.
However, what is often overlooked is the negative impact that positive decision can have on your long term results, if it involved lengthy negotiations
Over-investing on one particular deal – either by offering upgrades, or discounts – can often erode long-term value and profitability and (worst still) can result in a lack of fresh pipeline being built.
This lack of pipeline helps create a vicious cycle where you become over-reliant on a few prospects – this means you spend more time chasing the losers – instead of opening new accounts.
Knowing when to cut your losses and walk away is often the best thing you can do for you and your company.

Darwinsim

”Only the strongest survive” is Darwin’s often misquoted maxim.
In fact, he emphasised that it is those that are most willing to adapt and evolve that survive – and even thrive.
Despite this, I tend to find sales manager and reps reluctant to change their behaviours – even in the face of over-whelming evidence (i.e. poor numbers).
Statistically, more billionaires are made in recessions than any other time. Why?
It is simply because good times breed bad habits. When the market shifts, many will fail to iterate and lose out to those more willing to adapt and improve.

Amateurs

What’s the biggest difference between amateurs and professionals?
Amateurs practice until they get it right… Professional practice until they can’t get it wrong.
What’s more, professionals get paid.
Even amateur sports people warm up and yet we still see too many “professional” sales people that will happily try to undertake their jobs without any real preparation or practice.
We all know that the brain is a muscle and that muscles respond to being worked out – so why don’t we spend more time training our sales brain and acquiring the skills required to pay the bills?

Profiling

I would argue that profiling is one of the most important tasks that any sales team can undertake – spending time to really understand your ideal customer profile (and how you get more of them!)
The simplest way to do this is to follow four simple steps:

1. Identify key industries
2. Identify the stakeholders within those companies
3. Understand their challenges
4. Match this with your services or solutions

You should be left with a clear picture of who you can help the best and – crucially – what types of discussions you should be having to quickly demonstrate value.

Voicemail

Okay, quick admission – I never check my voicemail.
And I do mean NEVER.
My logic is that if it’s important, the caller will ring back – they will send an email or text.
Given this, you would assume I wouldn’t leave voicemails for prospects? But you’d be WRONG. Because whilst I can’t guarantee I’ll get a call back from leaving a voicemail, I can 100% guarantee I won’t get one if I don’t.
Good voicemails are short, they’re simple and they contain just enough information to illicit some interest and get a call back.
Less is definitely more in this situation.

Skill vs Will

Okay, the eternal debate.
Would you rather have a lazy, great salesperson – or an average workaholic?
My question is, why do they HAVE to be mutually exclusive?
I accept it’s natural that some people will initially put in more effort when they are not very good at something to compensate for a lack of ability. And again, once “mastered” (another debate entirely!) the natural inclination is to take the foot off the accelerator.
However, accepting this as the status quo really means that we’re accepting that we cannot change or influence this.
Good coaching and proactive man-management can fix this.
So own it. And own it now.

Negotiation

Never accept the first offer…. Everyone knows this – right??
However, if neither side – buyer or seller – is going to accept the first offer, then this means that negotiation is inevitable.
There is a theory that a fair deal is achieved when neither side walks away totally happy. That indicates there has been compromise on both sides.
Now whilst there is some logic to this, I honestly believe that if both sides aim to make the team happy (i.e engineer a win / win scenario rather than win / lose) then this previously tedious process can play an important role in ensuring everybody gets exactly what they want.
It really could be quite simple.

Time Management

There are 24 hours in a day.
That’s a fact.
And whilst you don’t get to choose how many hours you get per day, you do get to choose how you use them. And that my friends, is what counts.
Being busy does not mean your productive, just like working hard doesn’t automatically mean you are working smart.
In order to make the best use of the time you have, you need to have a plan. You then need to prioritise the most important parts of the plan. Finally you need to focus on these parts until they are complete.
It’s that simple.

Email

In my humble opinion, there is an over-reliance on email in modern sales.
However, that’s not to say it isn’t an incredibly valuable tool to help drive interest and set calls.
Given the average exec receives in excess of 100+ emails per day, how do we make ours stand and something that they are likely to respond to?
The emails subject line, length, content and call to action all play a huge role in determine whether you email gets a reply…. or sent to the trash.
My advice – think before you send.

Communication

Professor Albert Mehrabian’s study highlighted three factors as critical to good communication:

1. Body language
2. Tonality
3. Content

In that exact order.
Whilst that may seem strange, the logic is sound. Whilst we often forget exactly WHAT was said in a conversation, it is very rare that you forgot HOW it was said.
Body language is even easier to read, with the additional sense (i.e sight) allowing you to better interpret the message.
This is why face-to-face meetings still play such a crucial role in Sales and why – especially in phone based selling – how you project yourself is vital.

Objection Handling

There really is NO EXCUSE.
Given how predictable they are, we should never be caught out by a minor objection:
“I don’t have time to talk”…. “Just send me an email”
Anyone losing a prospect at this point really needs to do some homework, and realise this is just a natural “sales barrier” – a reflex reaction to a prospect of being pitched!
Whatever technique you use – and there are many – to keep the conversation going, just make sure you have one. Losing a sale before the conversation has begun is the quickest way to not get paid!
Are you ready?

Sales Process

What’s the point?
I often get asked this question by organisations that resent the idea of a script.
However, a script is not the same as a process; whilst most trained monkeys can read a script, applying a process – how to use it, when to deviate, why – is reserved for the elite.
The point is to align the sales and buying process and make it as easy as possible for all parties to do business.
I believe that four clearly defined steps – Engage, Persuade, Propose, Close – is the fastest way to build value and gauge interest.

Cold Calling

Don’t believe everything you read on social media… Cold calling is alive and well!
Whilst other “channels” are playing an increased role in sales and marketing strategies, the telephone remains the most direct way to reach your customers.
And it’s one of the easiest ways to differentiate yourself.
Whilst others wait for “warm” leads, others are out there identifying sales opportunities.
Given that a large amount of business is won by the company that helps shape requirements and objectives, I’m still amazed that more people aren’t trying to get ahead of the competition.
Remember “if you’re not first – you’re last”

KPIs

Have you heard the joke about the KPI’s?
Nope, me neither.
KPI’s are no laughing matter and yet I get the feeling that not enough salespeople – and managers – take them seriously enough.
As our only real means of predicting revenue, I always urge teams to “get back to the numbers”.
Call me old-fashioned but I take comfort in knowing that if I send X proposals per week at an average value of Y, I can almost guarantee a result of Z.
We should not see this as micro-management but as a means of guaranteeing our income – and (more importantly) our careers.

First Impressions

First impressions count.
We’re all guilty of making snap – and often incorrect decisions – on people we meet and the reality is that your prospects may reach the same ill-informed opinion on you… Within 30 seconds.
In order to maintain their interest and buy yourself some time, we have to quickly build trust and demonstrate value.
The quickest way to do this is NOT to talk about yourself but focus on your customers’ objectives and provide insights on others that you have recently helped.
Remember – you won’t make a sale in the first 30 seconds but you could lose one.

Death of a Salesman?

Contrary to popular belief, the salesperson is still integral to winning new business.
Unfortunately, the ones that often need convincing are the salespeople!
Talk to anyone that is missing target and I guarantee that the a) the price, b) the product, c) the brand is to blame.
However, a survey showed that price, product and brand had less of an impact on the purchase decision than the sales experience (an amazing 57%!)
We have little to no control over price, product or brand. We do, however, have autonomy over our own skills and the level of service we offer.
So no excuses and happy hunting.